Exam term as a first year history prelim-er has been a strange but enlightening experience. Contrary to popular opinion, I do have work, but what I am lacking is copious amounts of stress. Not being caught up in the panic of exams myself has, for the first time in my life, allowed me to see the effect exams have on people.
Firstly, I’m impressed by two of my friends who are handling it all exceptionally well. Though I can see them gradually moving from the “LOL I know nothing” to the “I. know. Nothing.” phase, at least they’ve retained their sanity and good humour. Others have responded rather differently.
Two of my best friends are medics – I haven’t seen one for almost two weeks and the other I’ve seen twice this term. As medics, you’d think they’d realise this isn’t healthy! It’s completely natural to feel nervous and stressed about exams but we have to remind ourselves that they aren’t the be all and end all. I don’t blame anyone for forgetting this; even for prelims it was hard not to be overcome by the pressure of the ridiculously high standards set by those around you. But now, observing from the outside, it’s clear how pointless all the stress and misery is.
I’m not suggesting exams aren’t important, but my point is surely they aren’t this important.
You simply cannot justify spending an entire term locked away. Who wants 1/3 of their uni memories to be of them sat alone in their room, surrounded by revision notes?
What’s needed is balance. I beg you to find an hour or two every week to do something fun, and I don’t mean half-heartedly going for a tepid coffee. Go punting, have a BBQ, go for cocktails, have a poker night, go to the theatre; just make this term worth remembering.
I’ve been guilty of taking exams too seriously my whole life and I’m so grateful for the wake-up call this term has been. It’s really put things in perspective and so next year, when I’m sitting exams for real, I refuse to let myself have a miserable exam term, not doing anything because “sorry, working”.
If this is what getting a first looks like, I’d rather pass.